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Wings Over Scotland

Britannia rules the graves

Posted on January 19, 2013 by

We’re indebted to commenter “DougtheDug” on A Sair Fecht for spotting this one. On Tuesday in the House of Commons section 30 debate, Labour MP Ian Davidson bitterly attacked the Scottish Government for allegedly timing the independence referendum to coincide – at least to within six months – with the 700th anniversary of the Battle Of Bannockburn. (Ignoring the fact that the referendum would have happened years ago had it not been vigorously opposed and blocked by Labour.)

Davidson claimed that the timing amounted to “celebrating the murder of hundreds or thousands of English people“, and accused the SNP of exploiting anti-English sentiment for “partisan advantage”. It was a contemptible enough piece of dog-whistle politics in its own right, but all the more extraordinarily hypocritical in the light of this:

Lurking in the Westminster archives is an Early Day Motion from late 2003, in which Mr Davidson was happy to attach his name to a Parliamentary celebration – tabled by the Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell – of what we presume we must call “the murder of hundreds or thousands of French and Spanish people”.

We must admit, we’re a little confused. Apparently openly and explicitly rejoicing at the historic deaths of enemy troops is fine if you’re a British nationalist, but disgusting, racist political chicanery if you’re a Scottish one (even when you’re not actually doing it). Can anyone point us at the rulebook for this sort of thing?

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    1. 20 06 14 18:49

      Why We Need Wings | A Wilderness of Peace

    41 to “Britannia rules the graves”

    1. Tris says:

      Good piece of research there (for which Dougthedug is renowned).

      Davidson’s intervention in the debate was despicable enough to begin with. Adding the hypocrisy that Doug has just uncovered makes the man look like an even bigger opportunistic cretin.


    2. Erchie says:

      Andrew Rosindell?

      What a character to attach your support to

      Holy Jeebus 

    3. Kirriereoch says:

      It would also be interesting to hear Labour MPs Ian Davidson´s views on the date of the referendum on Scottish devolution, which was, as I´m sure everyone is aware (if you´re old enough), on 11 September 1997.

      This is the exact, to the very date, 700th anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge fought on 11 September 1297.

      Now, which party at which parliament organised the 1997 referendum? 

      Just a wee thought. 

    4. Christian Wright says:

      The aim is to invalidate Scots collective sense of themselves as an historic race by trivializing and delegitimizing the remembrance of seminal events like Bannockburn that celebrate the founding of our nation.

      Mythologies are an essential ingredient of the glue than binds a people and creates a national identity. That is why there has been a concerted effort by the Union’s men to undermine these narratives where Scotland is concerned.

      The courage and sacrifice of our countrymen and the part they played in forging this nation should never be demeaned nor forgotten by any Scot. 

    5. FreddieThreepwood says:

      Of course, all of this is even more scurrilous and hypocritical when you consider the UK government’s plans to “celebrate” the START of WWI next year. I wonder what Davidson’s views on that one are. I fear attempting to answer it would require such contortions he would end up with his head up his own arse.
      Not for the first time. 

    6. Macart says:

      Y’know when I first heard that the referendum was to take place in 2014 the last thing on my mind was the commemoration of any day of conflict. I didn’t care about Ryder Cups or Commonwealth games either. I suddenly didn’t decide to head for the nearest encyclopedia or almanac and start checking for relevant and historic dates of any kind. Mibbies ah needs a doin’ for bein’ remiss n’that.

      I sort of thought that the date of Scotland’s referendum for independence may have been a significant date all on its own.

      Still it takes all kinds. 

    7. kininvie says:

      I think it would be fair to say that Mr Davidson, if asked, would consider himself as leading wind-up merchant on behalf of the No campaign on this and on every other possible occasion. After all, he drags in Bannockburn whenever he can…what was it..”a dog-whistle reminder to their own supporters that we hate the English”?
      But his attempts to twist the tail of the SNP, successful though they may be in provoking a storm of digital outrage, do rather compromise the rest of the party he purports to represent. The question then is less the character or the behaviour of Mr Davidson than the absence of any attempt by his party, either to dissociate themselves from him, or to quietly bring him under control through a little session in the whips’ office…
      The BaffieBox blog  provides a plausible explanation (referring to the ‘doing’ scandal):
      “….Labour are too busy opposing the SNP that they don’t have time to focus on common decency, never mind workplace harassment, women’s rights and bullying. Any concession to the SNP is a defeat, even when you win, and must be resisted or opposed at all costs. Scottish Labour have stuck faithfully to this charter for 4 years, and look where that’s got them. The only surprising thing about this entire episode, is that Labour (the all-seeing, all-conquering, mother-ship Labour), have allowed themselves to be infected with the paralysing hatred of the SNP that’s blinding the party in Scotland…”
      ..Either that, or all they’re all so terrified of getting a doing that they dare not say anything.

    8. Juteman says:

      If you look at the article closely, it reads ‘Davidson Ian Labour Party, Glasgow pillock.’

    9. Rabb says:

      Christian Wright says:

      The aim is to invalidate Scots collective sense of themselves as an historic race by trivializing and delegitimizing the remembrance of seminal events like Bannockburn that celebrate the founding of our nation.
      Mythologies are an essential ingredient of the glue than binds a people and creates a national identity. That is why there has been a concerted effort by the Union’s men to undermine these narratives where Scotland is concerned.
      The courage and sacrifice of our countrymen and the part they played in forging this nation should never be demeaned nor forgotten by any Scot.

      I think Davidson just said it because he’s a twat. I wouldn’t credit him with the brains to come up with your synopsis.

      A twat pure and simple.    

    10. Grahamski says:

      ‘The aim is to invalidate Scots collective sense of themselves as an historic race…’

      The Scots are a race? 

    11. Robin Ross says:

      Interesting that Radio Scotland this morning presented Mr Sarwar’s claim that we are in a dictatorship with a light hearted tone.  Perhaps BBC Scotland’s way of being apolitical (though inevitably a political decision in the context).

      It does raise the question of how to sustain a debate, when confronted by polemic such as that offered Mr Sarwar and Mr Davidson, because the ‘knockabout’ stuff of the Commons is not debate. Just as there is no point in ‘discussing’ with a drunk or a fundamentalist because the one cannot make sense and the other cannot see sense, neither is there any profit in countering slurs with serious comment.  So, when we are confronted by these stalwarts of the No campaign plumbing the shallows of their collective wisdom to come up with such crushing invective as we have heard from these MPs what can we do.  I would suggest there are two responses.
      1. Humour.  In real dictatorships some of the most effective political comment is made through comedy and cartoon.  Mr Davidson and Mr Sarwar are not frightening, they are ridiculous and their absurd comments can be laughed out of court rather than be taken seriously.
      2. Listen and question.  When someone is ignorant and makes intemperate, offensive comments, challenging them simply pushes them into defending their own position. It can be very effective to simply keep listening until they are able to hear the nonsense they are spouting, or to prompt them with questions – “What do you really mean by that?”
      Because, when all the sound and fury dies down, what Mr Sarwar and Mr Davidson really mean is very different to what they say.
      Years ago I was at an anti-Trident meeting in Glasgow chaired by a young councillor called Ian Davidson. He sounded committed and passionate in his principles.  When I listen to Ian Davidson MP I hear a man who is struggling to find a place in a world that is changing beyond his recognition and however ridiculous and offensive his bluster is, I am also moved to a small degree of pity when I see species doomed to extinction because they cannot evolve.

    12. Doug says:


       Race. Nation. People. Country.Society. Whatever. Being pedantic doesn’t invalidate the point.

    13. Erchie says:

      According to the Labour Party the Scots are a race and voting in the Referendum should be conducted on ethnic grounds.

      Why the Labour Party wish to stop Anas Sarwar voting in the Referendum is a mystery to me

    14. dadsarmy says:

      Juteman – I had to double-check to make sure!

      Re Davidson, with his committees he has unearthed a wealth of information and expert witnesses of all sorts of specialities, many who actually help the cause of Independence. One for instance is the lady who wrote a paper about Czechoslovakia, quoted by Alex Salmond as an example of just how quick, easy and amicable it can be, and then compounded by BBC talking to a deputy prime minster who says it’s the best thing since sliced bread for Slovakia.

      May his investigations continue to unearth supportive evidence for Independence. All power to his dogged powers of research and investigation 😉

      He’ll vote YES in 2014, he just won’t tell anyone that.

    15. Nairn Clark says:

      Regardless of the idiocy of Davidson’s position, do you really think there’s anyone out there who will decide whether or not to vote yes based on the referendum’s proximity to the anniversary of a historic battle and for that to be the most important factor in their choice?

      Mind you, had it been this year, it would’ve been the fivehundredth anniversary of Flodden. I wonder if he’d have used that.

    16. Kirriereoch says:

      @ Nairn Clark

      “Mind you, had it been this year, it would’ve been the fivehundredth a anniversary of Flodden. I wonder if he’d have used that.”

       Well, David Cameron and Michael Moore had proposed the referendum should be held in September 2013. So yes, that could have been a possible idea:

      The referendum on Scottish independence would be held next year under a detailed timetable backed by David Cameron to resolve the United Kingdom’s future at the earliest possible date.
      Michael Moore, the Scottish Secretary, today announced the Government’s preferred date for the ballot of September 2013, at least a year earlier than Alex Salmond’s autumn 2014 timescale.

      I recall my grandfather stating that if these politicians want to find a date that doesn´t coincide with some far distant battle date or famous piece of Scottish-English diplomacy then they´ll be hard pressed considering history. 🙂

    17. gerry parker says:

      @Robin Ross.
      Valid points.
      “In times of change it is the learners who inherit the earth, those who cannot or will not learn will find themselves equipped to exist in a world which no longer exists.”
      Eric Hoffer. 1902 – 1983

    18. Nairn Clark says:


      Imagine the Flodden-based ad campaign! ‘Remember what happened the last time you tried to be independent? Vote naw.’ 

    19. dadsarmy says:

      Kirrieroch, I knew someone who wouldn’t drink unless there was a famous birthday or battle to celebrate.

      There wasn’t a day he wasn’t in the pub.

    20. muttley79 says:

      I think what we have seen this week, particularly from ermine-chasers Curran, Sarwar and Davidson, is comfirmation that the unreconstructed Scottish Labour Party is surely reaching its terminal phase.  The anticipated venom for Salmond and the SNP was predictably there.  However, during the debates at Westminster we saw clear, hostile and sustained attacks on the people of Scotland as a whole, particularly from the increasingly-bitter British Nationalists in Scottish Labour.  They can’t hide their contempt for their nation any longer. 

      Scottish Labour have embarked on a campaign for the referendum that apparently sees no point in trying to attract SNP supporters, they have stuck two fingers up at the Labour Voters for Independence group, and most bizarrely of all, have started picking out individuals to alienate, such as Terry Butcher…..

      Every week comes more and more evidence that Lamont, Curran, Sarwar, Davidson et al have failed to learn literally anything from 2007 and 2011.  Indeed, they are actually getting worse with their never-ending negativity.  That they have learnt nothing is astounding in itself.  That they think they can continue this tactic, and win over the electorate in Scotland again, in this fashion, is demented.  Surely there must come a realisation soon that only a reconstitutioned Scottish Labour Party, in an independent Scotland, has a viable future.       

    21. Exiled... says:

      The fact that the referendum on the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and the referendum on Scottish Independence both happen to fall on the 700th anniversaries of massive Scottish victories in the Wars of Independence – Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn, IS a remarkable coincidence, but given that the first had to wait until there was a Labour majority at Westminster and the second had to wait until there was a SNP majority at Holyrood, it’s nonsense to see it as anything more than that.

      Of course, Labour could have delayed the former until 1998 and the SNP rushed through the latter in 2013, but then they would have fallen, as someone already pointed out, on significant anniversaries of heavy Scottish defeats at Falkirk and Flodden, so the dates would have been no less poignant. I’m sure that, come the day, people will vote with their heads rather than their hearts anyway.

    22. Doug Daniel says:

      If unionist hypocrisy is what ye seek, unionist hypocrisy is what ye shall have. 

      Hothersall calling those who want to leave the UK because it’s unreformable defeatists:

      And here’s his opinion of progressive forces in the UK so far:

      Hilarious stuff really. 

    23. Morag says:

      It’s interesting that this entire drama has been played out against the backdrop of significant 700th anniversaries from the time of the Wars of Independence.  I hope we don’t have to wait till 2020 for our Declaration of Independence though!

    24. ianbrotherhood says:

      Grahamski –
      Like most people I feel sympathy for endangered species and dislike seeing any creature being bullied, so this is a genuine question – what makes you post here? Seriously. What is it that you expect or want? I had a quick look at your blog and I couldn’t find a trace of anything that you believe in. Please enlighten me – when I encounter people with opinions similar to yours I’m never sure whether to ignore, pity, or confront them. I’m ready to listen.

    25. Christian Wright says:

      Grahamski says:

      “The Scots are a race?”
      Eric, Eric, how many times in how many fora  have I educated you on this very point?

      By the way, hope you’ve been staying away innocent schoolgirls. You do know that in many other countries that would have gotten you a custodial sentence, right?

      ‘Nuff said.

      RACE definitions

      3b : a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics

        2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
      4. Humans considered as a group.

      2a  a group of people who are similar because they speak the same language orhave the same history or customs

      For a legal definition under Scots law see Mandla v Dowell (below)

    26. Tamson says:

      I do wish the SNP still had a “bruiser” type to mix it with nyaffs like Davidson. An equivalent of John Reid or Norman Tebbit, always available for a punchy soundbite to put their gas at a peep.
      Jim Sillars would have fitted the role, but that ship sailed way back in ’92, sadly. What a waste.

    27. Midgehunter says:

      Morag says:

      “It’s interesting that this entire drama has been played out against the backdrop of significant 700th anniversaries from the time of the Wars of Independence.  I hope we don’t have to wait till 2020 for our Declaration of Independence though!”

      How about this then:
      2014 – referendum
      2016 – Independence day
      2020 – the final written constitution is implemented and becomes the backbone of the Scottish nation           

    28. An Duine Gruamach says:

      Grahamski – you have a clever username, and for that you deserve credit.  I wish my name was easy to work into such a good pun.

      However, I note that of all the points raised in the article and the comments, you have chosen to make no critique of the content and substance of the relevant argument, but have instead picked up one word used loosely which has no bearing on the present discussion.  Be straight here: do you think Davidson is being hypocritical here: yes or no?

    29. pmcrek says:


      To quote the American Sociological Association race is a construct — “a social invention that changes as political, economic, and historical contexts change”

      The essentialist notion of race based on genetics is no longer widely accepted.

      So to answer your question, yes, Scots are a race as long as people exist who identify with such a social construct.

    30. Alex Grant says:

      Grahamski is a well known troll. Ignore him

    31. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Eric, Eric,”

      Readers, don’t let Grahamski make me annoyed with you. He’d like that.

    32. Cameron says:

      Race is a red-hearing. It is cod-science, which has been used as a lever to split society, for Milena. It is born out of Aristotle’s definition of natural slaves, institutionalised by Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and is essential to the preservation of oligarchical power structure. Yet another means by which our faces continue to be crushed under the boot of…well, what shall we call it? I mean, the catholic church did not reject slavery as an “infamy” until 1965.

    33. mogabee says:

       Enough please.

    34. Cameron says:

      Yeeps! 🙂

    35. Christian Wright says:

      Marcia says:

      Kevin McKenna at the Guardian has seen the light

      Today McKenna, tomorrow der Welt! 

    36. dadsarmy says:

      Ay and another, though being Iain MacWhirter it isn’t much of a surprise:

      I know there’s an anti-Herald attitude amongs some posters, and I know why.

      But I’d urge you to rush out and check these articles are in the printed version, buy it, and urge all the people you can reach to buy it too. If the Herald sees its circulation figures going up as a result of fair balanced articles, well, to be honest, basically pro-Independence articles as the three above, it will hopefully continue to produce balanced articles – as it has in fact for a time now.

    37. Morag says:


      I’m away to church now, but I’ll pick up a Sunday Herald on the way home (the newsagent will laugh at me, I fear) and get reading.

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